One of the reasons I do not like classifying music by genre is, when I was a teenager (many, many years ago) , it all got a bit tribal. If you liked Punk, you didn’t listen to Rock. If you were into Rock, you looked with disdain on Glam. If you were a fan of Glam, you were probably my sister and therefore, by definition, nothing you liked to was worth hearing. The result was, I missed out on a bunch of good bands when I was growing up.
Since T. Rex was very much in the, “stuff my sister liked” category, I must admit that I did not really pay attention to them when they were at the height of their popularity. Pity, because if I had given them a go, I think I would have liked them.
This album is titled, For All The Cats – The Best Of Marc Bolan And T. Rex. It is not the first T. Rex “Best Of…” collection and I suspect it wont be the last, so how does this selection measure up? In my opinion, it is not bad at all. All the A sides, most of the B sides and a few other bits and pieces. In other words, if you are a fan, you probably have the stuff on this double CD already. But I suspect the diehard fan is not the target market for this collection. It is more likely aimed at people who, like me, were aware of T. Rex (grief, they were never off Top Of The Pops when I was growing up!) but who did not get around to buying any of their records. Or, it’s just as possible that it is aimed at a new generation of fans who, since their work continues to feature in films and adverts, have just discovered their music.
For both these groups of people, CD1 is probably the most interesting as it contains the bulk of the well known songs and it shows what made T. Rex great: Marc Bolan’s voice is distinctive and interesting; the songs are impressively catchy; and the musicianship is impressive. In general, the production values are high, this is not a collection that is padded out with half finished demos and sub-bootleg quality live recordings. The tracks range from the early hippy/folk influenced songs from their early work, through to their polished Glam Rock classics. It is difficult to listen to many of the tracks without singing along, a big stupid grin on your face and even, yes I admit it, doing a bit of dad dancing. (“I Love To Boogie” does it for me.) CD2 has more of the less well known stuff but it is not without interest, for example, the cover of “Summertime Blues” as well as “Hot Rod Mama” caught my ear.
Conclusion: if you want a reasonably comprehensive collection of T. Rex tracks, this is not a bad place to start. And don’t be put off just because your sister likes it. You might find she has better taste than you thought!